The Time Machine is an installation that explores the dual realities of a first world metropolis, Los Angeles, and of urban space in a developing region of the world, in this case San Salvador. These spaces coexist in the same hemisphere, separated by over 2,300 miles. However, they have strong connections to one another through labor and culture. Los Angeles is home to the largest Salvadoran population outside of the capital city of San Salvador.
Cortez’s work explores memory and loss in the aftermath of a war and in relation to the experience of immigration. Her installation conveys the experience of an immigrant who lives in Los Angeles, but who simultaneously inhabits another reality, that of one’s own city of origin. As a result, the installation makes reference to a landscape of diverse layers, the superimposition of two urban realities. The outside wall of the room displays a video projection of the City of Los Angeles in the daylight, viewed from the Griffith Observatory. The inner space of The Time Machine, on the contrary, is dark and shows a view of the city of San Salvador at night. It is a space reminiscent of childhood and nostalgic memories – a childhood of an artist who was raised during a war torn period in Salvadoran history.